CHICAGO (CBS) — About 100 students from a dozen South Side public high schools and elementary schools will be in fierce competition tomorrow.

A battle of word play.

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Original poetry.

The world is a place full of money, drugs and power.
We reap what we sow until it all turns sour.
The world is a place of mischief and disaster.
Same thing that brings you pain, brings another man laughter.

So begins “My Thoughts,” a poem by 17-year old TEAM Englewood High School junior Stephen Holmes.

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He’ll be among those expressing their thoughts and feelings in poetry tomorrow at Riots on the Warpland, a competition that will be held at Englewood High School starting at 11 a.m..

Holmes became interested in writing poetry last year and, at first, was as skeptical about it as his friends.


“When they hear me spit poetry, they (say) ‘Dang, you roar!'”

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For inspiration, Holmes says he uses his surroundings–his neighborhood, his friends and what they’re going through and what he’s going through.

16-year old Englewood High School sophomore Nijah Harrison says she’s been writing since she was in fifth grade.

“I’m not just quiet. I have a voice, but a poetic voice”, she says.

She says she thinks so much and has so many thoughts, that “sometimes, it’s hard to write about one specific thing.”

Harrison writes about happiness, sadness, love, grief and more.

Englewood teacher and Spoken Word Coach Dave Stieber says, “Especially this year when there’s been so much violence and things going on to impact the South Side negatively. This is a really positive event to bring kids who wouldn’t normally meet, together.”

Stieber says that, when Englewood’s poetry group started five years ago, “We were literally begging kids to be on the team.”

This year, he says, 15 students tried out for the eight available team spots.

Tomorrow’s poetry competition will be held at TEAM Englewood High School on 62nd and Stewart.

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It’s open to the public and starts at 11 a.m. A $3 donation is requested.